Sunday, April 12, 2015

Our Adventures With A Wild Chicken

On Facebook, not only do we have our Mountainside page, but I also belong to a number of different homesteading, farming and livestock groups.

On Colorado Chickens (great group, BTW) a woman was worried about a chicken she'd seen running about her yard and a neighbor's yard.  She put out food, water and shelter for this chicken and asked if anyone could come catch him.  I said I would if the chicken was still running about at the end of this week, so Saturday came, and while Husband was at some volunteer training at Foothills Animal Shelter, I went to her house in Denver.

There was a chicken all right. 

A fast chicken.

A wily chicken.

We almost had this chicken cornered when suddenly the neighbor's dog was at the fence, barking away.  Chicken freaked, ran out of the yard, across the road into some bushes- and back.  Yeah, we ran across the road too.  People driving by got quite a show!  You should have seen the faces on a couple of teenaged boys who stopped as the chicken ran across the road in front of their truck!

But wily chicken also proved to be an excellent flyer.  Trapped again, it went over our heads.  Then again, it went from the fence, to the roof of a covered area, to the roof of the house!  That's when the lady's husband got involved.  He went up on the roof and chased it off- and back across the road it went.  By now, chicken is panting, and so are we.  But now? There are three of us.  She is at one end of the bushes, I'm at the other, and her husband is in front..  The chicken burrows into the bush, trying to hide, but her husband reached in with gloved hands, and picked that chicken up!

The handed it off to me, ad we went back across the street and put the chicken in the carrier.  Once caught, the chicken was very calm, as if it had been held before, and went happily into the carrier.  We sat on the lawn and panted for a bit, and her husband tells me he thinks this chicken has been out and wild for some time, because he was it last year in the summer!

Well, now chicken is caught, off to a new mountain home, and this lady is very happy to have the chicken out of the dangers of the city.

But the story is not done.

She thought the chicken was a rooster due to the size of the tail.

I put the chicken in the car in the carrier, go back to Foothills, and when my husband and I come out, there was this little surprise!

Look what's at her feet!

Not a rooster at all!

This hen is clearly very healthy, acts like she's been in a carrier before, does fine on the car ride.  We get her home, and as is policy, set up to keep her isolated for a time, so we know she's not bringing any disease to our hens.

But chicken had a different plan.

My husband reached in the carrier to get her out, and she proves to be very spry and gets loose, running across the front yard, and straight up into a pine. WAY up.  So we get Daughter, get the broom, and attempt to scare her out of the tree. She flies to the Aspen tree, then the other Pine, and up she goes.  We stand and stare.  None of our chickens has ever flown higher than the deck railing, and never up into a tree!

See her? Credit to Kara Thompson for this picture, who went on the roof to take it!

There she is! Credit to Kara Thompson for this picture.
Can you see her? look near the top of the tree!

Husband suggests we let our flock out to free range to lure her down, at first I say no, but then I go in the house, get a tomato and we let them out,   My hens LOVE tomatoes, so I use it to lure a bunch into the front yard for this treat, so chicken in the tree can see them.  She sees them, but stays high in the tree.  Chickens finish the treat, return to their usual digging grounds at the side of the house.  I give up too.

I get the extra waterer, clean it and fill it, put it and the carrier out front near the steps - and the tree- chicken is still in the tree.  I walk around the side of the house and talk to my husband, and when I come back, the chicken in the tree is GONE!

I'm spinning about, looking for her, and see her near the garage - apparently she came down for the water, and she starts heading at a fast pace for the side yard and the flock! I call out to my husband that she's on her way.

Clearly, this hen has wandered into flocks before as well!

She walks right in, and a whole bunch of chickens surround her.  They look at her, she looks at them, and then the rooster comes over and she immediately submits.  Rooster is thrilled - he's got a new girlfriend!   Once he has his way with her, the other chickens seem to accept her- a few pecks on the head to let her know where she is in the flock hierarchy, but even our alpha female seems to pull the punches and only pecks her lightly.
YOu can just barely see here here - but she's there!

There's her tail, near the rooster and the Brahma.

So here new hen is in with the flock, but she is still very squirrelly about the humans.  She eats, she dusts, she wanders about, and as the sun is starting to go down, she follows some other hens into the run area.  So husband gets "bednight" treats, and all the rest follow him in, so we shut the gate.  She's freaked out by the tossed sunflower seeds, so she hides under the coop. but in a bit, she wanders out and eventually goes into the coop.  And immediately goes when no other hen has gone before - straight into the rafters.

We get everything else ready for bed for the hens, close the human door, and leave the run.  We figure since the sun is setting, she'll stay up there for the night.


Wild hen is determined to be a wild hen.  The fence that keeps the other hens in has not worked for her.  She is out of the coop, out of the run, and somewhere.  As I wander looking for her, the neighbor's dog comes up, and the neighbor comes out to call him back, so I tell him about the wild hen and how he may or may not see her.  He thinks this is truly funny.

I go online, and a long time farm friend of mine tells me how her hens used to take to the trees when they felt threatened- we assume she's in a tree somewhere around here.  She also said she'll come back - there's  no other water source except chicken waterers; no one except myself and a neighbor has chickens, so she'll likely end up back with my flock or his flock.  I'll be letting him know about her later today.

I did, however, hear a larger rustling in the garage when I sent to put things away last night, so I left the window to the garage coop open so she could go in and nest if that were her. I heard it again when I went to get feed and let my hens out, so I left the main garage door open in case she decides to wander in.  Right now, my hens are in their run and I did hear her distinctive wing sound as I walked away from the run.

We'll know if she comes back - her eggs are a different color than any of our girls.  And she is very distinctive in coloring and look.

This will be an interesting summer.  At least she's not where cars could run her over regularly anymore.

We should title this - "Our Summer of the Wild Chicken".

Not sure what breed she is either - anyone know?